>> To try to explain this more clearly, I'm attempting to expand my perception of NOW by using the commonality of the "quality" of the event (all the actions involved that make up a teeth-cleaning event) - to achieve the "quantity" (experiencing the event as a whole without being directly involved mentally with the sequential enacting of each moment or detail). <<
I suggest that in meditation you explore the Now itself. What defines Now? How long (duration) is Now? What differentiates Now from past and future?
In your tooth brushing example I see that you are trying to encompass a larger quantity of the *sequential* present-moments and are considering that a greater Now. In the temporal sense, where Now is perceived as the "present moment" (i.e., a sequential thing) this seems relevant. However, the Now and the present-moment are not exactly the same thing. The present-moment is our normal experience of the Now, but it is a sequential experience of a non-sequential, eternal and infinite thing.
Simply put, the Now itself, is infinite. It encompasses the whole temporal sequence of present-moments, not just a few of them or a million of them. Nonetheless, as sequentialized creatures, we must approach this eternal experience of the true Now incrementally and, as you propose, increase how many present-moments we can encompass within a single Now of our conscious awareness.
Therein lies the key -- our conscious awareness. The present-moment itself is defined by our own sequential awareness of the temporal manifestation of Now. When our awareness is heightened (focused) we naturally remain conscious of the commonality between several present-moments in a row and thus have the experience that you describe of time seeming to shorten and compress. But it is only the physical tempo of time that seems to compress since our awareness of events is actually greater. In other words, even our experience of the physical speed of time's passage is dependant upon our awareness.
Oddly, what really takes you deeper into this encompassing more of the temporal Now, is to focus yourself down into the *infinitely finite* present-moment. This is the doorway to the infinite Now.
With your tooth brushing example, instead of focusing upon the thread of intention, you would focus solely upon the present-moment and let go of the *sequential process* of brushing your teeth. In fact, let go of EVERY thing other than exactly what you are doing in the immediate moment.
Just be careful that you don't have anything else you need to do right after getting your teeth brushed since this could conceivably take hours per tooth! ;-) Which is to say that this is not an altogether functional state of mind for normal human activity.
The exercise you describe however, IS functional and I encourage you in its pursuit. :) I think it will teach you a great deal.
My best to you,
:) Rawn Clark
06 Jul 2002